(April 8) Looking for an edge in an increasingly competitive market, Washington and Oregon pear marketers are seeking authority to regulate size and packaging standards.

A proposal that would allow regulations on maturity and packaging of Washington and Oregon winter pears was published in the April 3 Federal Register. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking comments by May 3.

Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., said the proposed rules were first discussed at a hearing November 2000.

The proposed rule authorizes container and marking regulations — and perhaps most importantly — adds maturity to the list of pear quality factors that can be regulated. The proposed amendments were submitted by the Winter Pear Control Committee, which administers the order locally, and were discussed in open forum at a November 2000 public hearing. The Winter Pear Control Committee contracts with the pear bureau to handle marketing and promotional activities for winter pears under the generic USA Pear label.

Moffitt said the rule to allow maturity regulation would strengthen the ability of the winter pear industry to deliver quality fruit to the consumer.

Comments must be received by May 3 and should be sent to: Hearing Clerk, Room 1081-S, USDA Stop 9200, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9200. Comments may also be faxed to (202) 720-9776.

Copies of the recommended decision may be obtained from Melissa Schmaedick, AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs, (202) 720-2491; fax (202) 720-8938; or from Teresa Hutchinson, USDA Northwest Marketing Field Office, AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs, (503) 326-2724; fax (503) 326-7440.